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Dealing with School Anxiety: Powerful Things That Adults Can Do

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School Anxiety: Powerful Things That Adults Can Do

Anxious kids are brave kids. They are creative, thoughtful and have the potential to light the world on fire, every one of them, often in unexpected ways. When anxiety takes hold though, it’s overwhelming. It can shut down their potential, their engagement with the world and their self-belief. It feels awful and life becomes more about avoiding anxiety than it does about embracing life in ways that flourish them. This can be turned around and although anxiety doesn’t generally go away, it can be managed so that it stays in the background and out of their way. For anxious kids, the important adults in their lives are a powerful ally in helping to make this happen.

  1. Let nothing be off-limits.

    Let them know that they can come to you with anything. They don’t have to know how to start or how to say it. Let them know that it’s enough to let you know that they have something they want to talk to about, but that they don’t know what to say. The next part you can do together.

  2. Let them know you can handle anything.

    They’ll catch whatever you send out, so let it be peaceful, beautiful zen vibes, even if you have to fake it. Let them know that there is nothing they can say that will make you sad, angry or disappointed in them. You might feel all of these things, but hang on to them. If they’re opening up to you, it’s because they trust you and want to bring you in to their world, which is a pretty special place to be. Keep the connection and take the opportunity to show them that coming to you, however hard it is, will always be worth it. You can’t imagine how grateful you might be for this one day.

  3. Set a time to chat – with a definite beginning and a definite end.

    Have a regular talk time with a definite beginning and a definite end where they can stop the conversation if they want with no pressure from you to keep it going. Let them have the control. Sometimes it can be difficult to raise things because of where it might end up – too much digging, too many questions, too much intensity, phone calls to the school – who could know. Sometimes kids need the opportunity to say what they need to say, even if it’s just downloading about a crappy day, and know that they can stop the conversation whenever they want to. It’s a safe way to raise difficult things. It can feel uncomfortable until your next opportunity to chat – which will come – but what’s important is that they’ve been able to bring you in to whatever is troubling them. If it needs to go further, you can deal with that later, but at least you’ll have the ‘heads up’ that something is going on.

  4. Don’t judge, criticise or push them too hard to move through it.

    What they are doing might not be working for them, but for the moment it’s the only thing they know how to do. Be the one who ‘gets it’ from where they are. Don’t worry, you won’t reinforce their anxiety by doing this. What you’ll be doing is validating them. When they feel validated, they can start to respond from a position of strength. Criticising them, judging them, or demanding a different response will only intensify their feelings of self-doubt and put a distance between you. 

  5. They need to know you get it.

    Telling them there’s nothing to worry about will only make things tougher for everyone. The more you fight their feelings, the harder their feelings will fight back. Be with them where they are, rather than pushing them to be somewhere else. When they are anxious, they are being driven by a brain in fight or flight. It’s working towards survival and has no time for rational thought. The rational, thinking part of their brain ‘disconnects’ from the instinctive, reactive part . You can play a powerful part in turning this around. Stay calm and gently tell them that you can see that they’re struggling and that you understand. Tell them that you know how difficult it is for them and that you wish it could be different. Then, give them in fantasy what they can’t have in reality. ‘I really wish that going to school was easier for you. I can see how much it upsets you. I really understand how awful it feels and I wish you didn’t have to go, but you do.’ Take away any their reason to fight you or withdraw (flee) from you. This will help settle the reactive part of their brain and bring the rational part back online. When this happens, they’ll find calm and will be able to make better decisions. 

  6. Help them with the words for what they might be feeling.

    Anything you can do to flourish their emotional vocabulary will help them to make sense of things. Name what you think they might be feeling in a way that makes it easy for them to correct you. ‘You seem angry/ confused/ sad, right now.’ Then let them know that it’s okay for them to feel what they’re feeling, and that you understand. Let them know they make sense to you. It’s a beautiful thing to feel.

  7. Anxiety and courage exist together. Show them.

    It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that brave people do what they do because they are fearless, but anyone who is pushed to the edges of themselves will feel fear. Explain that anxiety is actually a sign that they’re about to do something really brave – otherwise they wouldn’t be anxious about it. What pushes the limits is different for everyone. There will be things that are tough for them that are easy for others, and things that are easy for them (find the things they’re good at) and tough for others. Everyone feels anxiety at some point, but for kids going through it, they can feel like they are the only ones. Model self-belief and normalise anxiety by sharing the times you feel anxious and act brave. 

  8. Get the information you need when they’re calm.

    When things are calm and happy, have a chat about what you can do to make things better when their anxiety is at full throttle. Ask them what helps and what you (or others) do that doesn’t help. Listen and try not to take it personally.

  9. Notice every little step.

    Kids who struggle with school anxiety are generally really well-behaved and want to do the right thing. Your approval means everything to them. When they do something that would be difficult in the face of anxiety, notice – even if it’s just finishing breakfast or putting their hair in ponytail. Their anxiety feels big. Whenever they’re bigger, let them know that you’ve noticed. 

  10. Understand why being tough won’t help.

    It’s likely that you’ve tried the tough love thing, even if only in desperation. It’s also likely that it didn’t work. Anxiety is driven by a brain that thinks it’s under threat. It’s physiological. Their body is being surged with neurochemicals that are readying them for fight or flight. When there’s no need for fight or flight, the neurochemicals build up and it feels awful. That’s anxiety. It’s not bad behaviour and it’s not from soft parenting. Kids with anxiety just want to be like other kids who have no trouble going to school. They don’t want to feel the way they do, so being tough or telling them to ‘get over it’ will be as useful as telling them to catch falling stars in a thimble. When the brain is in survival mode, as it is during anxiety, it’s in lockdown and completely focussed on staying alive. There’s no human instinct that’s stronger. The brain won’t sideline its need to stay safe just because someone is getting cranky. All it will do is make your child feel more alone and less understood. It can be really easy to feel judged by people who suggest that toughening up is all that’s needed. Ugh. Anyone who says that has never had to deal with a child in distress from anxiety. Ignore them and move on. Or tell then to shoosh. They have no idea what they’re talking about. Trust that you’re doing a great job, because you will be.

And finally …

It’s more than likely that the anxiety didn’t happen overnight, so change won’t happen that way either. Any progress is great progress. Anxiety is difficult to deal with, but it is manageable. There will be steps forward and steps back, but over time the forward steps will become more and the backward ones will become less. Don’t underestimate the difference you’re making by being there, believing in them, and seeing them for the amazing humans they are, not just despite their anxiety but also because of it. 

You might also like …

‘Hey Warrior’ is the book I’ve written for children to help them understand anxiety and to find their ‘brave’. It explains why anxiety feels the way it does, and it will teach them how they can ‘be the boss of their brains’ during anxiety, to feel calm. It’s not always enough to tell kids what to do – they need to understand why it works. Hey Warrior does this, giving explanations in a fun, simple, way that helps things make sense in a, ‘Oh so that’s how that works!’ kind of way, alongside gorgeous illustrations.

 

 


 

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33 Comments

Nicole

Thank you. These words are what I needed to hear today. I feel like this article was meant for me. I have 1 question How do you help someone when they can’t identify the trigger or feeling they are experiencing during and after the anxiety? Our phycologists if having trouble getting our daughter to share this information

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Hey Sigmund

You’re very welcome. Often there is no identifiable trigger, which is one of the things that makes anxiety so difficult. It can feel as though it comes out of the blue. Anxiety happens when the brain senses threat, but the threat doesn’t have to be real. Sometimes it’s anxiety about the anxiety. The physical feelings feel so awful, that even the thought of that happening again (which can sometimes happen out of awareness) can be enough to trigger it. See if this article helps http://www.heysigmund.com/how-to-deal-with-school-anxiety-no-more-distressing-goodbyes/. It talks about how to explain anxiety to kids. It explains where it comes from and what they need to know to deal with it. Let your daughter know that it’s really normal and okay if she doesn’t know what’s setting it off. Anxiety can be a bit like that. I wish you and your daughter all the very best.

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Nicole

I read that article and it was so helpful. My daughter read bits and she could really relate to it. Even got the thumbs up. So thank you. For us its the getting to school that’s the most difficult. Once she is there and her front brain is online she functions extremely well. So frustrating!! You are right, any progress is good progress.

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Christine Anthony

As an adult with selective mutism, the best way to help is to listen to your kids. Get them to draw or write to you about their experience during the day.

Be aware that not every teacher will know or care what your child is going through.

You need to know when your child is too afraid to defend themselves, but, if they see you standing up for them, they’ll learn how to do this for themselves.

If your child is in trouble with a teacher, talk to the child separately before deciding on an action.

I know parents want to instantly react, but it can cause problems for the child at school that parents won’t necessarily be aware of until it’s too late.

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Nicole

Thank you Christine. I just wish our daughter would tell us something, but I guess like Karen has said often their is no reason with anxiety. We are grateful we can get our daughter to school sometimes because last year she would not leave the house. We are making steps forward and having amazing, helpful information from this site is so very appreciated.

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Wendy Burfitt

If only you had a time machine and could say this to the people in my life 35 years ago! My life has been one long struggle because there was no one, No One. In my world when I wa growing up who understood this. Alone is not the word!! One thing? How does a parent who does want to do the right thing deal with a school who insists on 100% attendance?

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Hey Sigmund

I wish I could go back 35 years and say it to them too! We’re understanding so much more about anxiety because brain imaging technology is giving us more information than we’ve eve had before. School plays such an important role in dealing with anxiety. Children with anxiety need to feel understood and supported, otherwise their anxiety will keep making school difficult for them.

Can you organise a meeting with a year level co-ordinator, or someone who has authority to make important decisions on attendance issues? Don’t assume the school understands anxiety. The problem is that a lot of teachers and schools don’t receive the support they need to understand anxiety or how to best manage it. If you can organise a meeting with the appropriate staff and help them to understand what’s happening for your child, they will be in a better position to provide the support that’s needed.

Nobody knows your child like you do, and if you can combine that information with the information you now have about how anxiety works, it will make it easier to come up with a plan that works for everyone. The more you can collaborate with the teachers the better. Let the school know that you want to see 100% attendance too, but that you need their support to make it happen. Let them know that you’re really willing to make it work and that you’re open to their suggestions, but that it’s really important to you that they first understand what they’re dealing with in relation to anxiety and your child. Most teachers and schools are great when they understand the issues. My experience of schools is that when they have the right information, they’re willing to be flexible and to do what’s best for the child. Hopefully they can put the needs of your child above their need for 100% attendance. Of course 100% attendance is what everyone wants, but it might take some bending and flexing to get there. I wish you all the very best.

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Laraine

Wendy, my 15 year old daughter struggles to get sleep and struggles to go to school. We found that a letter from the family doctor explaining the situation and putting some safety things in place helped. The school let her take her work to the library, she had a free pass which allowed her to go to the library when she didn’t feel safe or was finding it too stressful to be with other kids in the classroom. She was also allowed to use her head phones and listen to music in the back of the class. She also has Wednesday home to break up the week, catch up on homework and de-stress. She now has a mental health plan for her anxiety, the school has to support her even when her attendance is only 50%. Hope you can find some strategies to help. It’s a long road and together you can make baby steps. Half days and missing stressful lessons and certain teachers also helped.

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Kristi

Laraine, we’ve recently, and finally, been working with our 14-year-old daughter J’s school regarding her anxiety issues. It sounds like your “mental health plan” is similar to the 504 plan we recently worked out with J’s school. Hers isn’t quite as open as that, but maybe it needs to be. She’s missed a lot of school in the past due to her anxiety, but luckily her teachers were willing to let her turn in her assignments later, and make up tests at different times, and her grades were really good despite missing so many days. This year, though, her first year of high school, we have it on paper, and on file with the teachers. As they said, it doesn’t fix the problem, but it does assure that the school will work with her, and she won’t be penalized because of it.

Her plan states that any absences due to her anxiety will not be counted as unexcused, and so won’t be tallied for losing credit in her classes. It also says that her teachers will work with her and allow her to finish her assignments or take missed tests or quizzes within a reasonable amount of time. It also states that she can have preferential seating (sometimes sitting near the front helps her concentrate more in class) if it will help.

Wow, if she had something like every Wednesday off to break up her week and de-stress, that would be great!

I’m finding that many of these articles about anxiety and children have to do with explaining anxiety to younger children… She used to LOVE school and was very friendly to everyone and very helpful to others and always did her work and got good grades and excelled in music and art, which she loves. Her anxiety wasn’t clear when she was younger, even though we knew she was somewhat sensitive, one of the things I love about her. Now she’s a very smart young teenager, and this anxiety only reared its head in the last few years, when most kids are dealing with “just” middle school / teenage angst, and this anxiety rose up from her depths to magnify that angst to no end…

It really does feel like there’s no end and that it’s not getting better for her… and I don’t know how to help her… and I feel like a failure as a parent for this… I don’t want to see her suffer, and yet I feel there’s nothing I can do for her to make it easier…

Hey, Sigmund, could you please share links to some articles regarding anxiety in teenagers? And especially teenage girls? And what parents of anxious teenagers might be able to do to help when it seems their teenager doesn’t want to hear a thing they have to say, even if it’s to say, “I just love you”?

Sigh….

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Hey Sigmund

Hi Kristi, Thank you so much for sharing this! One of the things I love about this site is the way people share their own experiences with each other. It takes a village! First of all – you are not a failure as a parent! Anxiety is awful and so hard to deal with for parents and kids. I have a 13 year old daughter and her anxiety only came on quite recently, so I really understand what you’re going through. One of the reasons it comes on strongly during adolescence is because of the massive brain changes they’re going through. They get billions of new connections, but it takes until they’re about 24 for those connections to be refined. One of the first place the big changes happen is at the back of the brain in the emotional centres where the amygdala (the part of the brain that triggers the fight or flight response is). As you can imagine, with all these new connections sorting themselves out, things can get a bit wild until they get sorted out, which can take a little while. The problem is that while this is going on in the emotional centres, one of the last parts of the brain to ‘come online’ is the prefrontal cortex at the front that is responsible for thinking, planning, and responding rationally and logically. So, for a fairly lengthy period during adolescence, their emotional centres are on fire, but without the calming, reasoning part of the pre-frontal cortex to calm things down. It’s a tough time for them, but it will end. In the meantime, it’s about managing the anxiety and helping them to understand what’s going on inside them to ease the ‘anxiety about the anxiety’.

Understanding where the physical feelings associated with anxiety come from is a really important part. I used the explanation here for my own daughter – (the simplest explanations are often the best!) http://www.heysigmund.com/anxiety-in-kids/ but this one is the same information but with a more grown up tone http://www.heysigmund.com/dealing-with-anxiety/. If you go to the menu bar and click on ‘Being Human’ and then ‘Anxiety’, there is a heap of information about things you can do to help strengthen the brain against anxiety, and ways to manage anxiety when it’s actually happening. One thing that seems to be really useful for teens (and adults) is Omega 3. There is research that has shown the effectiveness of it with anxiety and I’ve had a lot of people comment that it makes a difference to their teens. There are a few ways to take it now that don’t taste as revolting as pure fish oil – here it comes in gummy lollies and as a tutti-frutti syrup. I suppose enough sugar will make anything taste okay. It might be worth looking into – a pharmacist should be able to help you with that.

As for talking to teens, here are an of article that might help http://www.heysigmund.com/proven-ways-to-strengthen-the-connection-with-your-teen/. I’m planning to have that one up this week. I also have an 18 year old, so I know what you mean about it being tricky when adolescents don’t want to hear you. That’s also a part of the changes that are happening in their brain. They seem like they don’t want to hear you, but they hear it on some level. I’m working on an another article about teens, which might be useful and will have it up this week.

Whatever you do, don’t give yourself a hard time about this. You’re tuned in to what’s happening, you’re available, you’re working and you’re open to what you can do. You’re doing an amazing job. Anxiety is hard enough, but you’re also dealing with the huge changes that come about with adolescence. Just keep being there as a strong, steady presence for her. I know it can feel like that’s not enough but trust me – it’s everything!

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Mairi

Thank you so much for this uplifting article, my beautiful sensitive middle son suffers from this and it seemed at first to be a bolt out of the blue. However the dust is beginning to settle and we’re finding our feet together, thank you for these inspiring wise words.

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Teacher

Hi & thankyou. I am an early childhood teacher looking for answers for a 6 yo child in my class. This student will not speak at all when parents are present but hides behind them. In class it has taken half a year to get an utterence. During guided reading they read aloud, although softly & interact in the playground with peers. This student looks quite terrified when approached by teachers and what you have shared leads me to believe she may be a selective mute. Sharing your stories is helping me to understand more. Teachers don’t know everything but we try our best to understand our students. I’m doing some side by side colouring in and trying to build some trust when time allows. Am I on the right track? There is no diagnosis,

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Hey Sigmund

From what you have said, it sounds as though you have a little person who may be introverted. If this is the case, this is a completely normal way of being and is nothing to worry about. What it means is that they get their energy by focussing inward, rather than from other people. Often these kids are really socially capable and well-liked, but they will only engage with a selected few. When they are comfortable with people, they will often be warm, funny and really engaging. Quality of time is more important than quantity, so engaging one on one when you can, even if it’s only brief, will be more powerful than a much longer period without one to one engagement. It’s about getting them to the point where they feel ready to make the decision to let you into their world. Often you’ll have to work pretty hard for a spot, but when you’re in they’re amazing and will be fiercely loyal. They’ll never to unkind and they’ll never exclude people – it’s not about that. It’s just that they have to feel comfortable with someone before they let them in. They’d rather have fewer high quality friendships than a higher number of acquaintances. They can be quite choosey with their tribe, which is a good thing, so you might find that you have to work hard to be a part of their inner circle. You’ll probably find that people are either in or they’re out – no in between. Not ‘out’ in a mean way, but ‘out’ as in ‘not in’, if that makes sense.

They are often really sensitive to what’s happening around them and will stand back and take in more than you could imagine. This will make them great friends and often very wise and creative. The world could do with plenty more of them.

One of the problems with introverted kids in a classroom is that they will always be better one on one. That way, they can get to know you and trust you. It’s really hard to do this in a group. They are every bit as capable, socially and academically, as any other student. All kids need support to be the best they can be, but for introverted kids, the support they generally thrive with is one on one attention. I know how difficult this is in a classroom.

You are doing exactly the right thing. Teachers are amazing and have enormous capacity to flourish these kids. The relationship is critical. It is really difficult when there are so many other kids who also need attention – I completely understand that. Introverted kids will never ask for attention, but they will benefit enormously from any one to one attention that you can give them. Challenge them, but don’t push them. In a conversation, keep asking things like ‘and what else?’ or ‘and what then?’ They’ll have things to say, they might just need to be invited to say them. Side by side colouring is a wonderful thing to do – it’s creative, it’s fun, and with you at the side, rather than in front, it will feel a lot safer. Here is some information that might help: http://www.heysigmund.com/anxious-kids-at-school-how-to-help-them-soar/.

Keep doing what you’re doing – you’re doing a wonderful job. Know what a difference you’re making, even if it’s not obvious yet. The world is really lucky to have teachers like you.

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Teacher

Thanks for your response, it’s so nice to know there are so many people with great ideas who are willing to share. It takes a village.

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Lotte

So so so grateful for all the work you do and in sharing this. I have felt so alone in dealing with my son’s separation anxiety and now school anxiety. It’s good to read these very clear explanations and also to signpost well meaning relatives to these too.
Thank you.

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Hey Sigmund

You are so welcome. I’m pleased the information is helpful for you. Anxiety can be so difficult to understand if you’re not the parent or child who is dealing with it. It can be confusing for the most well-meaning, loving friends and relatives. I hope it brings comfort to you and your son and helps your relatives to understand things a little more.

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Karina

What I am really struggling with is getting my daughter to actually go to school. Ive tried to be understanding and gentle, ive tried tough love but my daughter will not open up beyond I dont want to go to school. Can you please suggest ways of getting her out of the front door and into the school?

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Hey Sigmund

Talk to her about what school anxiety is and tell her that you understand that it’s a very real thing. This is the article that will help you with that http://www.heysigmund.com/how-to-deal-with-school-anxiety-no-more-distressing-goodbyes/. It’s really important that she understands why she feels the way she does.

I think it’s really important that the school be involved in helping you to come up with a plan to make it easier for her to come back. It’s very likely that they would have dealt with similar situations many times before, so they’ll probably have some really good ideas. The school might also know if there is something else going on that is making it difficult for her to attend. Is she having trouble in class? With friends? She might not be, but it’s always worth making sure. I’ve seen schools do things like start with reduced attendance, so maybe 2 half days a week then leading up into more, or something like that. Anything she can do is great and is better than nothing. At the moment she’s super sensitive to what happens to her when she arrives at school – the anxious feelings would be awful for her and are enough to keep her away. The idea is to desensitise her to this so that her anxiety is less frequent and less intense. The more she is exposed to school, the more this will happen, but it is baby steps so she isn’t overwhelmed.

Let your daughter know that she has to go to school, but that you and the school will work with her to find the best way for her to do this. The communication might just have to be between you and the school at first if the thought of her talking to the school with you is something that feels too big for her. In the meantime, work with her on the strategies in the article I’ve included the link for so she has a plan for when things start feeling bad. Also, there are ways to strengthen the anxiety part of her brain so it is less easily triggered. The problem is that there will be such a mental block for her now, so the anticipation of the awful anxious feelings is enough to keep her away from school. I’m not sure how old she is, but if she’s old enough, talk to her about this and involve her in ways to strengthen herself http://www.heysigmund.com/anxiety-without-medication/. There’s really no easy solution for this. Anxiety isn’t really cured, but is can be managed really effectively so it doesn’t get in her way. This will take a big push from her and she might not be convinced at first. It’s gentle steps. I don’t know if this is useful, but here is another article that might help about ways the school might be able to support her http://www.heysigmund.com/anxious-kids-at-school-how-to-help-them-soar/.

Your daughter will come through this, but I know how tough this must be for both of you in the meantime. The school will be your greatest ally. I hope that between them, you and your daughter, she is able to find a way to move forward with strength and unfold the great things that are waiting inside her for the opportunity to come out.

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Heidi Murray

Just reading this article and some of the responses has helped me feel less alone! I read a response to my husband and he thought that I had written it!
I guess slow and steady is the way to go .
I have made the mistake of making my daughter feel like school is more important than her well being.
It’s just not.
If her anxiety is taking over her brain, she can’t focus on her school work anyway.
I have to let up a little and make her feel supported a lot.
Thanks for helping me come to that!

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome. Anxiety is so common and you would be amazed how many kids and parents are struggling with it. It makes such a difference to know you’re not alone – thank you for adding your voice. There’s something very powerful about ‘me too.’

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Jen

It is good to see that I am not the only parent struggling to get her child to school, and to communicate with the school about my daughter’s anxiety.
Does anyone know of some good, short videos made for children and adolescents to explain anxiety? My daughter has a reading and communication disorder, which makes reading difficult. She also feels alone, so a video or two that explains anxiety, and that other girls her age also suffer from it, may make help her.

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Karina

A video or something similar on YouTube would be great! Much more interesting to the kids as well! X

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Hey Sigmund

I always love hearing ideas and thoughts on what people would like to see on the site! I’ve started working on a project that will cover this, but I hear you and will make sure that a big part of it is targeted directly towards kids. I can definitely see the need. We’ll set to work!

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Betty

We had the same with our daughter and still do 3 years later, to a much lesser extent. I spent nearly a year of my life sitting in a school car park either trying to get her to go in or after agreeing to stay there incase she couldn’t stay in and needed to leave. On the rare good day I might get home for an hour when the school would ring and ask me to collect her. They didn’t have a clue what to do when she felt anxious. With the exception of one teacher, the school were very dismissive of the situation and offered virtually no assistance. She is 17 now and i have to say it’s the hardest thing I ever had to deal with as a parent. It’s such a struggle not to get angry and the frustration I feel sometimes can be overwhelming. We have done a lot of work with mental health experts to get her to the place she is at today, but one bad day can turn that all on its back. It really does take over and support can sometimes be hard to find. But it does get better and as they learn to cope and so do we. She attends school now more than she doesn’t, which for us is a dramatic improvement and she can socialize with peers which is lovely to see. I think its such a cruel and hard thing to live with and sometimes because there isn’t anything physical to associate to it, it’s hard to relate, We find ourselves tip toeing around our child, trying not to upset her or cause any anxiety that day, sometimes to our own detriment. Its hard work but the tools my child has learned for coping will hopefully stand to her in the future. Reading all the articles and all the comments helps, we are not alone in this, other families are living with this and its great that we can share and vent with people who understand. Thanks all

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Nicola

Thank you needed to see this today the anxiety is so high at the mo and my son just won’t talk or open up to any one. Thing is it’s causing more and more school refusals which is causing my anxiety to rise as being threatened by school with the authorities .

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Hey Sigmund

Nicola I’m not sure if you have seen this article, but it will help your son to understand what is happening http://www.heysigmund.com/anxiety-in-kids/. Anxiety is a frightening thing for kids – for adults too – but when they are able to understand why they feel the way they do, it is a powerful thing. Have you spoken to the school? Once they understand that anxiety is behind the behaviour, they will likely have some strategies and will work with you on a plan to best support your son.

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Angela

Thank you for your comments. I have a 5 year old who is a good boy but when I drop off at school he cries and the teacher has to rip him out of my car kicking and screaming. It takes him 45-1 hour to calm down while at school. Eventually he calms down and enjoys school. But the initial drop off is awful. He’s only 5 so he doesn’t understand why this is happening. Any suggestions???

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Angela I completely understand how distressing this can be for everyone. As difficult as it is, it’s very likely your son will eventually grow out of this. At the moment, there is a very clear association between school and distress. Before he has any time to think about whether or not school is a threat, he is accessing memories of the distress he has come to associate with school drop-off. It will take time to untangle this, but it can be done. Try using the strategies in the article. There are also articles on this link http://www.heysigmund.com/?s=kids+anxiety which will have ways to manage your son’s anxiety at drop-off and help to ease his distress. I hope they help to bring comfort to you and your son’s and to take the trauma out of your mornings.

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Hey Warrior - A book about anxiety in children.













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